Go It Alone: Eddie Vedder’s Non-Pearl Jam Letterman Appearances

by John Reynolds on June 15, 2011

Late Show with David Letterman

In this age of leaks and rumors, it’s amazing that the news that Eddie Vedder will be appearing solo on the Late Show with David Letterman on June 20 - in just 5 days – did not leak before today. There to promote Ukulele Songs, Ed’s appearance Monday will precede shows uptown at the Beacon Theater Tuesday and Wednesday.

Eddie’s been to the notoriously cold Ed Sullivan theater many times with Pearl Jam:

  • September 20, 1996 – Performing “Hail, Hail” and “Leaving Here” (cut) as promotion for No Code
  • May 1, 1998 – Performing “Wishlist” as promotion for Yield
  • April 20, 2000 – Performing “Grievance” as promotion for Binaural
  • November 14, 2002 “I Am Mine” and November 15, 2002 “Save You” as promotion for Riot Act
  • September 30, 2004 “Masters of War” as promotion for the 2004 Vote For Change Tour
  • May 4, 2006Performing “Life Wasted” as promotion for S/T with an additional 10-song performance for the crowd after the taping

But he has also made three other appearances “as himself” over the years: a surprise in-person skit, a taped skit, and an appearance with a famous mentor.

Fell On “Black” Days

On February 27, 1996, the Late Show audience was graced with a very funny skit that has David Letterman and orchestra leader Paul Shaffer playfully trying to sing the ending of TEN’s “Black”. Paul finally sets up “Do you want to really know how that’s done?” and Ed appears to sing the famous “I know someday you’ll have a beautiful life” verse. Eddie disappears side stage with the music still playing but comes out for a bow as the song goes to commercial.

Fun Facts!

  • Later that night, Eddie was a face in the crowd for one of The Ramones’ last New York City shows downtown at Coney Island High. Our Jessica Letkemann was there, and she fondly remembers the house music that night being a mix of The Who, “Sonic Reducer” (Dead Boys) and “Waiting Room” (Fugazi). Wink.
  • The next night, Eddie – donning the same black leather jacket – was on the west coast with Pearl Jam accepting the Grammy for “Spin The Black Circle”, and the famous line “I don’t know what this means, I don’t think it means anything”.

Paul Shaffer = Jeremy?

In May 1998, Ed played a small part in a taped skit about Paul Shaffer which satirized the then-popular VH1 series “Behind the Music”. Eddie has a part, saying how Paul was actually the inspiration for “Jeremy”. (source: FiveHorizons.com)

Who Are You?

Ed appears with The Who’s Pete Townshend on June 28, 1999, performing “Heart To Hang Onto” as part of his promotion for “Pete Townshend Live” benefitting the Maryville Academy, which provides housing for neglected Chicago children. The connection runs deeper because said live album was from June 14, 1997 at the House of Blues, Chicago where Ed joined Pete for that song as well as “Tattoo” and “Magic Bus”.

Number 4, Number 4

On the early evening of Monday June 20, the Late Show with David Letterman will tape an episode along with guest Cameron Diaz. Just after midnight on June 21, Dave will hold up a copy (vinyl?) of Ukulele Songs and introduce his “friend” Eddie Vedder to perform. What song do you think he will play?

Addendum: Minutes before publishing this article we found a similar Five Horizons article.  We did our piece separately but we bet you’d enjoy that FiveHorizons.com article too!

John Reynolds ( Twitter: @jjjrrr )
A New Jersey based programmer, John handles TFT’s programming and technical aspects. He also conceives and writes his share of TFT’s articles and sections. John’s first Pearl Jam show was at Lollapalooza on August 12, 1992.

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